More on WWE Being Sued by Former Superstar over Saudi Arabian Shows
New details have come out of the amended class action lawsuit against WWE over their Saudi Arabia deal. WrestleNomics has posted court documents from the lawsuit, filed by Firefighters Pension System of the City of Kansas City Missouri Trust against former WWE Co-Presidents George A. Barrios and Michelle Wilson, along with Vince McMahon and WWE, which claims that WWE misled investors about their TV deal in the Middle East & North Africa region as well as other aspects of their dealing in the region.
The complaint, which as previously reported has a former WWE talent as a confidential witness, says that WWE allegedly failed to disclose their TV deal with OSN in the region being ended early when OSN began to struggle financially, and became delinquent in payments of rights fees. WWE sent OSN a Notice of Material Breach in September of 2018, after which OSN shut down its sports channels as a cost-cutting measure and sought the early termination. OSN’s general counsel informed WWE of their intent in November and the two sides came to terms on a settlement on December 18th to allow OSN to end the deal as of March 31st, 2019.
WWE was allegedly looking for a new broadcast partner and tries to secure a deal with Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). An employee of MBC said that WWE had “wildly unreasonable expectations of the revenue it expected from a potential broadcast partner,” claiming that WWE proposed an $80 million annual licensing fee. They said that WWE projected over 100 million OTT subscribers, based on the number of OSN subscribers who watched WWE. However, MBC’s projections allegedly were that WWE would get 6.5 million subscribers “at most.” WWE rejected this estimate and MBC raised their estimate to 10 million subscribers in order to be cooperative, then to 15 million “only to please WWE, not because MBC felt the projections were realistic.”
The employee said that WWE dropped their asking price for licensing to $50 million, which was still well above the $14.5 million that MBC felt was its upper limit. Negotiations ended there. WWE has yet to announce a new TV deal in the area despite informing investors that they planned to have the deal done by the end of 2019.